HiSea Project wins EU funding to provide high-resolution data on sea water quality

The European Union (EU) has awarded the international HiSea consortium more than €1.9 million to develop, test and demonstrate information services to provide high-resolution data on water quality at sea.


The services offered by HiSea will incorporate and process data obtained through the EU’s COPERNICUS marine, land and climate observation and monitoring services, Sentinel satellites, local monitoring data, and advanced modelling. The innovative HiSea platform is aimed at improving operation, planning and management of various marine activities, with a focus on port and aquaculture sectors.

“HiSea, combing measurements and models, has an enormous potential to improve the understanding of the coastal environment,” according to the EU’s Horizon 2020 grant announcement. “The immediate market uptake of the HiSea services by the targeted ports and aquaculture users is guaranteed. Linking to the market and experience of the partners to deliver similar services, HiSea has the capability to demonstrate the proposed services at regional or even global scale.”

The HiSea information services will include:

  • Early warning on potential risks and hazards (such as storms, sewage contamination and harmful algae blooms)
  • Tools for real-time crisis management and identification of appropriate responses to pollution accidents
  • Key performance indicators (on such things as environmental conditions, fish population and growth rates, and vessels’ level of vulnerability to storms)
  • Accurate and reliable forecasts regarding weather, hydrodynamics and water quality, and other information needed for planning operations
  • A database of knowledge regarding cause-effect relationships to help improve understanding of phenomena that impact management and planning of future operations

The need for such services is illustrated by a recent study by the European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO), which identified the need to cooperation and improve sharing knowledge between ports, alongside improved environmental management generally. The report ranked water quality among the top environmental concerns.

In the same report, ESPO observed that water quality is becoming an ever-higher priority for European ports and cited the example of the Port of Dublin investing some €2m in buoys to monitor the impact of dredging on water quality.

Similarly, within aquaculture predicting water quality can be crucial, and both sectoral organisations and government bodies increasingly see the need to invest in water quality information systems. So for example, Chile’s Salmon Technology Institute (INTESAL) won a government grant for a $1m multifaceted water quality monitoring project that will promote sustainable use of Chilean fishing resources.

“The main goal of HiSea services is to deliver accurate and reliable information, readily available, easily understandable to fit seamlessly users’ operation, planning and management requirements,” said HiSea project coordinator Dr. Ghada El Serafy of Deltares. “HiSea will provide relevant information, derived from many different sources, in a simple and effective way to add value to their operations and provide them with a competitive advantage.”

The HiSea project, which is set to run until mid-2021, will hold its opening conference in Scheveningen, The Netherlands on January 8-9, 2019. Partners in the HiSea consortium are: DELTARES (Netherlands), HIDROMOD (Portugal), ASCORA GmbH (Germany), Fundación Valenciaport (Spain), ARGANS Limited (UK), Selonda Aquaculture S.A. (Greece), and AGORA Partners (Israel).